Allderdice tops Obama Academy in rematch of City League championship

Wednesday, February 10, 2021 | 12:00 AM

After going weeks without shooting a basketball, City League scorers will need time to find their touch, predicted Allderdice boys coach Devin Crummie.

His words seemed almost prophetic in Tuesday’s first quarter when the Dragons went 1 for 13 shooting and scored two points. At the other end, Obama Academy missed nine of its first 12 shots.

“I think the first quarter set basketball back,” Crummie said with a laugh. “Not just our team but all of basketball.”

But any basketball is better than no basketball.

So, Allderdice leaned heavily on its defense, forced some turnovers and scored enough layups in transition to defeat host Obama Academy, 45-31, in the teams’ City League opener. After scoring two points in the first quarter, Allderdice awoke and scored 23 in the second.

“We were struggling,” said Allderdice’s Malik Robinson, who scored a game-high 16 points. “As you can see, we didn’t get a lot of shots to fall. But we stayed with it. We knew in the second quarter that we had to turn it up a little bit. That’s what we did.”

Cam Butcher and Ray’Quan Young scored 10 points each for Allderdice (1-1, 1-0). Robinson, Butcher and Young combined for 20 of the Dragons’ 23 second-quarter points.

Sayon Bennett led Obama (0-1, 0-1) with 15 points.

This was a rematch of last year’s City League championship that Obama won, snapping Allderdice’s streak of consecutive titles. That loss remained on Allderdice’s mind.

“It felt good to get a little bit of revenge,” Robinson said. “But the work isn’t done yet. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

The atmosphere was different than usual for a rivalry game. All City League home games will be played in the afternoon this winter and no fans were allowed in the gym.

The teams rematch Feb. 25 at Allderdice.

City League basketball teams didn’t begin practice until Jan. 25, at least three weeks later than most of their WPIAL counterparts. Pittsburgh Public Schools, which is teaching classes exclusively online, had delayed the season twice before allowing teams to start.

“We didn’t get the result we wanted, but being on the court is always a good feeling,” said Bennett, a senior. “I’m just happy to be out there with my guys. We’ve still got a lot of work to do. We’ve barely been together.”

Obama’s Naron Jackson, a former assistant, was making his debut as head coach. For awhile this winter, there were some doubts about whether the season would be played at all. Regardless of the outcome, opening against Allderdice was a fitting start, Jackson said.

“It’s a happy feeling,” he said, “just to see kids that we play against all the time from Dice. It’s good to see Crummie, it’s good to see his assistants and go back to war. It feels good, and the kids enjoyed it.”

Obama led 7-2 after the first quarter with a pair of layups by Bennett.

Tied later at seven, the standout point guard added a runner early in the second to take a 9-7 lead. A put-back basket by teammate Teyron Wofford less than a minute later gave Obama its final lead at 11-10.

Obama played a zone defense that clogged the middle and forced Allderdice’s shooters to the perimeter. The Dragons shot 3 for 19 from 3-point range, including 0 for 8 in the first quarter.

“I don’t know if we were ready to play coming out,” Crummie said. “I give credit to Obama first and foremost because they brought more energy than we did. They came out on defense and played physical. They took away our guys and said: ‘Shoot from the outside … you’re not going to get any layups.’”

But Allderdice, sparked by its defense, answered with a 20-3 run that stretched into the third quarter. The rally started with a couple of 3-pointers by Butcher, but also included consecutive steals and layups by Robinson just before halftime.

Allderdice led 25-12 at half.

The difference was “our intensity on defense,” Robinson said. “We ended up getting steals that led to easy buckets at the rim.”

Allderdice’s largest lead was 16 points late in the third quarter. A layup by Young put the Dragons ahead 31-15.

Obama narrowed the gap to seven points midway through the fourth. The deficit was 33-26 after a steal and layup by Obama’s Wofford, but Allderdice held on.

“Because of this pandemic, a lot of guys haven’t been in the gym,” Crummie said. “… I know for us this year, we need that defense to spark our offense. Luckily, we did that.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at or via Twitter .

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